“Holy Listening” – a Reflection on the Ministry of Spiritual Direction

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP
Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

When I was discerning my call to religious life and finally decided on a congregation, I began the application process.  There were so many things I didn’t have a clue about.  One of the questions on the application was, “Do you have a spiritual director and for how long have you been seeing them?”  What was spiritual direction and why did the vocation director think I needed it?  My fear was that they must have realized that I wasn’t really good at prayer or that I sometimes questioned some of the teaching of the church?  I was at an impasse so I called the vocation director to humbly admit I had no idea what they were talking about.  Thankfully, she explained that spiritual direction is a process by which one meets with a director to discuss one’s prayer life, relationship with God, questions about life, and how to best live out the life God has called me to.  It is all about growing in my relationship with God, self and others.  Since then, I have been in spiritual direction for many years, have trained as a director and am honored to be among a good number of sisters and associates in the Dominican Sisters of Peace who serve in the ministry of spiritual direction.

A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering of spiritual directors who are sisters and associates in our congregation.   I felt God’s presence with us in a palpable way as we spoke the names of the women and men we accompany in spiritual direction.  In a deeply spiritual way we placed each of these people in the center of our group.  These are men and women seeking God, struggling with addiction, experiences of abuse, growing as mothers and fathers, discerning a call to religious life, facing end of life issues, and so on.  As each name was spoken, the room filled more with their spiritual presence.  It was a moment of grace and realization.  Spiritual Directors do more than listen – we hold our directees also in our hearts and in reverence before, during and after we meet with them.  Looking around the circle, I saw the face of God’s mercy all around.   To listen to each person’s sacred story is a humble privilege we treasure and that also challenges us.  Sometimes it is hard to listen and sometimes I forget that I am listening as the Holy Spirit’s presence enters in and lifts us up in the moment of sacred discourse.

This week I am beginning my search for a new spiritual director.  I recently relocated to a new convent and a new place of ministry here in New Haven, CT.  The process of seeking and finding a director is one I have repeated many times.  This will be my ninth spiritual director.  I’ve changed a lot since puzzling over the question about direction on my application.  I have come to treasure and find vital the experience of being in spiritual direction.

Wondering what Spiritual Direction is?  Need some help discerning where God is calling you?  Give us a call; we’ll be happy to listen, to question with you, and to walk with you as you grow in relationship with God.  “Do you have a minute?””

Posted in God Calling?

12 responses to ““Holy Listening” – a Reflection on the Ministry of Spiritual Direction

  1. Dear Sister June,

    My name is Bill Miller. I am a trained and certificated spiritual director in the Akron area. Recently, at a retreat I was leading, a woman approached me and asked if I knew of any women who were practicing spiritual direction in the Akron/Stow Ohio area. I could not help her. So, I have decided to try to find some women to whom I might refer her. I would appreciate knowing any women in this area who you could recommend as spiritual directors. Thank you, in advance, for you assistance.

  2. Thank you June for your reflection on the necessity of spiritual direction and the very important quality of a companion is listening. A wise director reminded me that God is the Director.

    Blessings and deep peace!

  3. I need this reminder that it’s time to seek a spiritual companion. As a chaplain retired, I have neglected my own spiritual needs. Thank you.

  4. A great reflection. I agree 100%. I have had a Spiritual Companion for many years. Since I am a distance from my Spiritual Companion and feel the importance of this aspect of my spiritual life we do it telephonically and it works. When we meet face to face it is even a richer experience. It is a gift I have given to myself and what a gift my spiritual Companion is to me.

  5. Thank you for your insights as to what a spiritual director does. Being a spiritual director for many years it was good to read your journey as a spiritual director. I found your insights a blessing. Thank you for all you do as a spiritual director.

  6. Thanks, June! What a beautiful sharing about your experience! Know that I hold you in prayer as you find one for you that will bless you in many ways. Peace!

  7. Thanks, June! What a wonderful and enticing description of the process of spiritual direction and of our experience at the meeting of OP and OPA spiritual directors prior to the Assembly.

  8. Thanks, June! Very real and authentic presentation of spiritual direction. If I didn’t have one you would have convinced me to go on a search.

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